Improving awareness of fertility/pregnancy issues in young breast cancer patients

November 24, 2020
fertility/pregnancy issues

Fertility preservation and pregnancy-related issues are among the priority concerns of female breast cancer patients, many of whom have been diagnosed with the hormonally-driven disease before having completed their reproductive plans. Despite the marked increase in fertility preservation and feasibility of having a pregnancy after breast cancer in recent years, many young women call for more research efforts to improve care in regards to breast cancer and fertility/pregnancy-related issues.

According to international guidelines including recent research by professor and medical oncologist Dr. Matteo Lambertini, ESMO Young Oncologists Committee, customised oncofertility counselling should be made available to all women diagnosed during their reproductive years. The counselling should be offered early on during anticancer treatment planning, irrespective of type or stage of disease, and cover important discussions such as chances of conception, pregnancy outcomes and effective contraception, to optimise patient management and cost-effectiveness.

Dr. Lambertini’s research also highlights many cultural factors, notably in Asia Pacific (APAC), that prevent open discussion about fertility/pregnancy with young cancer patients; these include lack of adequate knowledge on the topic by cancer care physicians and lack of dedicated oncofertility programmes in respective regions. ESMO guidelines state that an active network between oncologists/haematologists is essential to refer women patients interested in fertility preservation to experienced fertility clinics, and manage anygynaecological issues that may arise.

Deeper consideration of patients’ fertility care and pregnancy desire is a crucial component to anticancer treatment adherence and survivorship of patients in APAC – implementing educational and research initiatives across this diverse domain will help overcome cultural barriers and significantly improve oncofertility care.

Oncologist Dr. Takayuki Yoshino, National Cancer Center Japan, suggests establishing a unified medical standard in APAC that is compatible with current international standards, including education targeting Asian-specific cancer types, to ensure quality care in patients with cancer backgrounds. This could also affect the success of related academic clinical trials and future of drugmaking across the region.

Read: Blocking two genes found to halt growth, spread of triple negative breast cancer

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Category: Education, Features

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